Friday, October 31, 2008

My son showed up for dinner last night
with a bottle of Scotch and a box of Godiva chocolates
in hand. Glory be!

Heavy rain today, and I had wanted to stand on the banks
of a river this afternoon, in full sunlight.
This glorious extended autumn.
Instead we went to a movie, and on the way home
the late-breaking sun lit up every tree
blazing against the dark clouds of all day.
Not quite as good as a river, but consolation.
Kit Kat and Almond Joy in a basket by the door.
Dexter, Season Two, on the DVD player. Spooks!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Death makes us do things:
once, after a death, I threw away a great wad
of old white holey socks. Incredibly liberating.
Red beans'n'rice in the pot simmering all day,
and now applesauce bubbles and spatters on the burner.
Waiting for the election feels like waiting
for Christmas. What do you want in your stocking?
Mine will be overflowing with Democrats.
And I've been very good this year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nelson and I ate dinner tonight at Green Leaf in the
International District, then strolled for a bit,
looking in (mostly closed) store windows. Another
of my favorite Chinese variety stores is closing --
don't know where I'll go to get papercut butterflies.
We wandered into an open shop to check out some
interesting papers in the window, and we discovered
a young woman making dumplings -- beside the candy
counter (notice the "Charleston Chew" bars behind
the dumpling table):

This shop was all about crepes -- bet you can't tell
that the one on the bottom left is tunafish!

Great writing group tonight --
eight of us toasted to the hope of a new president,
laughed our asses off, and, as usual, gave insightful
and (mostly!) constructive criticism.
Here is a sampling of the words that flitted about:

Amazing Grapes
mirrored dance-ball

Monday, October 27, 2008

I lifted weights this morning at the gym with Paul.
And he made me do situps. I hate situps.
I did 100, each equally detested.
Then I lifted weights at work: boxes. Boxes.
And then there is my own plenteous mass, lifted & heaved
with every step. So it goes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I've been messing around with more still life photos.
(Still lifes? Lives?!) On one hand, it seems very cliche,
but on the other hand, it brings me a lot of pleasure,
and that is worth something. I wonder what the painter
Cezanne would have done with iPhoto, or Photoshop.
I just read an essay which talks about how his work
redefined how the viewer looked (looks) at art; essentially
he tapped into how the brain processes imagery --
a first for an artist.

Our internet is out for "36-72 hours", so we're camped down
at Tully's for an hour or so to get our daily fix. What an
addiction! (I'm not talking about coffee.)

One of the nice things about being "older" is that I don't
feel such a compulsion to get out and do things when the
weather is stellar, as it is today. It's enough to poke
around the yard, to study leaves, watch the Stellar's jays
hop through the underbrush of the hedge. (Stellar and Stellar's!)
No need to hop on a bike and charge up hills, or to scale
Tiger Mountain. (Not that I've done either recently.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

R. returned from Germany last night, backpack (literally) bursting
at the seams. He voiced loud complaints about the Toronto airport,
much praise for the efficiency of German trains, and renewed inspiration
for all things culinary. When I asked him if he liked traveling alone,
he answered with a resounding "Yes!" He said one of the best things
about the event was the opportunity to network with chefs from
all over the world. Network? Was this truly my shy son speaking?!
At the risk of sounding cliche, I must say that one of the most
amazing things about being a parent is being able to watch your child --
at any age -- lift those wings a little higher.

This song is for Reilly:

Friday, October 24, 2008

The new picture: I took this at Doo Lough
in County Mayo, Ireland, last summer.
Shallow water, water everywhere, leaves afloat.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You gotta love Rednecks4Obama.

Where I work, there is a revolving door, so-to-speak,
through which various individuals roam.
This week we've been visited by 16-year-old N., who
is attending a boarding school in Northern California
while his parents traverse the globe on their sailboat.
(He's on a mid-quarter break.)
He is a lively, bright young man with myriad interests.
Yesterday I listened to him talk about the protracted process
of cattle becoming certified organic -- fascinating -- apparently
it's about a five-year process. Today, when I walked into work,
he was holding the resident kitten, a feisty and gorgeous
long-haired Maine Coon named Tigger Lou.
When I walked up to him, without saying anything, he handed
me the kitten, who was purring up a storm, and promptly
cuddled around my neck. O joy! I got in a few moments
with this delightful kitten, then handed him back to N.
I tell you, a boy and a dog is nice, but it takes a special kind
of boy to show that kind of affection for a kitten.

photo manipulation, sunglasses & one joy of commuting

I've been spending way too much time the past week messing around
with photoshop (thanks, Melinda!), but there are limits to what this
non-techie can figure out, so last night Nelson came over and showed
me how to do a bunch of new stuff, and he doesn't even have photoshop.
Go figure. I still feel like I'm just scratching the surface, though it is a blast.

One of my greatest pleasures each day is my drive home to Redmond
from Seattle, over the Lacy V. Murrow Floating Bridge. In any weather,
when one emerges from the tunnel onto the two-mile stretch of highway
buoyed by massive pontoons, the lake spreads out on either side,
sometimes roiling, sometimes glassy, sometimes kicked up into
whitecaps, spurting spray. In the distance, the Cascades loom,
everpresent, often brooding in rain-leaden clouds. After the time
shifts this weekend, I'll soon enjoy the reflection of the setting sun
on their varied peaks. Traversing the bridge only takes about two
minutes, and then traffic descends once more into tunneled darkness.
I consider myself lucky if there's a backup, doubly lucky
if traffic is stopped. Which is where I'll leave you --
smack center of the (aka) Mercer Island Floating Bridge, 5:15pm,
middle of October, the setting sun illuminating clouds on the mountains,
a breeze disturbing the steel-blue surface of Lake Washington.
Look around, inhale, enjoy!

(The preceding Zen moment has been brought to you by T. Clear.)
(Hello, I'm T. Clear and I approve of this blog.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"And yes, it's real food."

I heard from Reilly in Germany this morning -- yay!
(Ever the mother hen, who frets and fusses when a chick
is far from the nest. And my boys will ALWAYS be chicks
no matter what their age, no matter how far they roam.)
His photo (above) is from the International Culinary Olympics
in Erfurt. His very brief e'mail just happened to mention
that he has consumed his fair share of German beer --
O the glories of youth! Nonetheless, this mother's heart
is lit up with joy on this dark, wet, October morning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blustery this morning. Time to bring the geraniums in
for the winter.

I was chatting with the checker at Target yesterday,
a twenty-something Pakistani woman. She said she's
been in this country for four years, but that the process
took fourteen years. Said that she doesn't miss her
home country, because her entire family now lives here.
I can't imagine what she has lived, can't imagine so desiring
to leave one's country to permanently take up residence
in another. Paul and I talk about moving to Ireland --
but with the luxury of mobility between countries
in the western world. Standing there yesterday while this
young woman rang up my purchases, surrounded
by the ridiculous excesses of this society, I suddenly felt
a bit like a spoiled child: I wanted new placemats, so I bought
new placemats. I wanted a white porcelain serving plate,
so I bought a white porcelain serving plate. Did I need them?
No. Were they necessary? Not at all. Could I leave them
and everything else I possess and start a new life on the other
side of the globe? (I'm not talking about moving to Ireland here.)
Thankfully, I don't have to make that decision.
And what about you?
Could you do what this Pakistani woman has done?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A chicken in the pot with leeks, Italian parsley,
carrots, celery, thyme and peppercorns.
Balm for the ragged throat.

I binged on pears today at Whole Foods:
one comice, one bartlett, one d'Anjou, one bosc,
one red and four seckels, also known as "sugar pears."
I'll put the red in a salad of romaine, sliced celery,
toasted walnuts and a blue cheese vinagrette.
The rest will be honey on the tongue!

Friday, October 17, 2008


It's too late.
It's too early.
I need to sleep.
It's raining.
Clothes need ironing.
I'm too old.
I'm not old enough.
The cat is outside.
Summer is over.
I haven't baked in weeks.
There is no pie.
I took a nap.
I'm not awake yet.
I had too much coffee.
I need more caffeine.
The cat is in.
This is not Ireland.
My sister named me.

And he's off!

Reilly took off this morning (by himself) for a week in Germany
to be a spectator at the International Culinary Olympics.
He has worked hard this summer and fall to save up the cash
for this, and I'm extremely proud of him. And I can't but recall
flying to London by myself at the same age where I booked
a flight across the channel to Paris to spend a summer
not getting a job, even though I had a work permit.
Ah.....the follies of youth!

(Needless to say, it was the best summer of my life.
Going broke and all. Lingering at sidewalk cafes
far past midnight. Strolling the halls of the Louvre.
Feasting on cheap wine, St. Paulin cheese and pain au levain.
I think it's time for [yet] another trip to Paris.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So. Senator McInane wants to build 45 nuclear plants.
(Or is that nuke-you-ler?) To begin with, he has to find
45 communities that won't protest like hell over having
a reactor in their back yard. Second, each plant will
cost a minimum of 9 billion dollars, which, when multiplied
by 45, comes to a tidy 405 billion dollars. And no new taxes!
What a great plan. And that doesn't even begin to account
for waste storage. And what was with all those smarmy smiles?
I'm betting that his advisors told him that he had to smile
more. They (the smiles) came across as very rodent-like.
Hamsterish. Guinea-piggish. (Thanks to Genevieve for this
last reference.) I don't know about you, but whenever I'm
confronted with a leering rodent, I have an uncontrollable
urge to upchuck. November 4th can't come too soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Any day (hour, minute) this autumn crud inhabiting my body
can be on it's merry way. Au revoir. I slept for eleven hours
last night thanks to hydrocodone. And no coughing. For eleven
hours. Yippee!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tonight after dinner we'd decided to watch a DVD,
and it was all set to play, all one of us had to do
was pick up the remote and push the necessary buttons.

Paul said, "I guess that's my job."
And I answered, somewhat facetiously,
"Of course! It's a job for a man!"

And then, of course, I cringed, remembering my mother
and her mantra, in our all-female household:
when I was a teenager, during the height of the Women's Movement,
whenever my mom was confronted with any home-repair job
she didn't want to tackle, she whipped out
her all-purpose response: "Now that's a job for a MAN!"
Which infuriated my sixteen-year-old independent sensibility.
So, to prove her wrong,
to prove that any Job For A Man
could be Done By A Women, I proceeded to take on
various & sundry chores: most of the gardening in our half-acre yard
(including mowing, a job shared with two of my sisters),
scraping, caulking and painting a large portion of our red house,
and assisting my brother in tearing off and re-roofing
the entire house. I learned to change my own oil,
I learned how to change a tire. I carried anything
and everything heavy, moved furniture (including a piano,
which drove my mother crazy).
I became strong and capable.
Mom believed major injuries lay in wait for me.
I just got stronger.

Boy did I show her! Ha!
Yeah right. I hated every minute of that house-painting
and roofing and oil changing and tire changing.
I only did it to prove a point, and I'm not sure
if she even got it. Or cared.
But things did get done around our house,
often before the appropriate "man" arrived
with a hammer and man-sized muscles.
(Generally my older brother.)

But I'll say that I hope I never have to pick up a paintbrush again.
Or a roofing tool. Or a can of Penzoil. Let me reside
in the kitchen with the zester and the micro-planer,
the reamer and the mandoline -- tools enough for me.
But I say this to my husband:
"Honey, would you please, please, get that DVD to play!"

After all, it's a job for a man.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

If you thought it couldn't get any worse,
check out The Poetry of Sarah Palin on Slate.
Oh there is nothing like a pie, nothing in the world!
(Sung to There is Nothing Like a Dame.)

Fresh Farmer's Cheese (incredibly easy to make)

I couldn't resist posting this (actually, I thought
it turned out better than the nude version):
Ahhhhh....homemade cheese, many martinis,
German chocolate pie and a hilarity of charades.
(As in the game, with participation required
or no pie for you, buddy.) I love the game
of charades and it's a rare evening when
adults are willing, and somehow my exhortations
(and pie-withholding threats) were successful.
We all wrote down the name of a movie, book
or song. The demon was in me, and I wrote
"The Dictionary" on my scrap of paper
and put it in the hat. son
happened to pluck that one when his turn came,
and he (somewhat discreetly) proceeded to act out
the first syllable of "dictionary."
Well. Ahem.
I've been coughing and hacking this past week,
and a good laugh sends me into spasms
of coughing/snorting/wheezing/shrieking.
And so when Nelson began his Dictionary Charade
I did all of the above, with plentiful tears
descending my cheeks.
There is nothing like a good rollicking laugh.
(Well, perhaps pie.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Party tomorrow, all my Brandon Street family
is coming to the Redmond house. I am not exactly
a Martha Stewart home-deco protegee, but I rather like
my candle-holder invention:

Went to Daniel Smith (art store) tonight with Nelson
and wandered about the blank canvases while N. lectured
me on the merits of linen, cotton, etc. Then I had to
walk through and touch all the Japanese papers, those
lovely swirling patterns reminiscent of the light
in certain dreams, intensely hued: don't wake me up!
I've always loved going to art supply stores --
the raw materials of infinite possibility.
And those endless tubes of paint: they know
so much more than I do.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We had this soup for dinner tonight, and it
was dee-vine:

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

* 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
* 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
* 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 5 cups chicken broth
* 1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 cups milk
* 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* Garnishes: sour cream, fresh cilantro sprig

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion,
jalapeño pepper, and garlic; sauté 15 minutes.
Add chicken broth and next 4 ingredients, and cook,
stirring often, 30 minutes or until potato is tender.
Remove from heat, and let cool slightly (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Process potato mixture, pumpkin, and cilantro, in batches,
in a food processor or blender until smooth,
stopping to scrape down sides.

Return to Dutch oven; stir in milk, and simmer 10 minutes
or until thoroughly heated. Stir in lime juice.

Southern Living, OCTOBER 2003

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"I'm deathly afraid of phobias."


fog + funk = fug, e.g., "I am in a fug."

Monday, October 6, 2008

The rain has returned. That's all I seem to
be able to write here. No more lingering
sun, no last roses. None.

A plague has inhabited my throat and head
since I returned from New York. It does
odd things to the brain. This morning when I
woke up I went into the bathroom and stood
on the scale and couldn't see the numbers.
I wondered if I had suddenly lost some vision,
or perhaps I was still asleep. Disconcerting.
Or maybe I didn't want to see the numbers.
Or maybe I just hadn't turned on the light.
Yep. That was it.
I needed sudafed and coffee, and light,
and I got all three.
And vision returned, as did a tiny portion
of the brain. We are such simple creatures,
after all.

I've happened upon a great red wine from Sicily,
the grape is called Nero d'Avola. Last year
about this time I bought a bottle for ten bucks
at PCC and was blown away, so I went back
and bought a case. Then, post consumption,
forgot the name. (Well, I did have a lot going on
at the time. Like Getting Married.)
Last month, at The Grape Choice in Kirkland, I had
a conversation with Larry Springer, the owner,
(who is also a State Representative for the 45th District).
We were chatting about Italian wines, and he said he
was familiar with a particular Sicilian red but
couldn't remember what it was. As we were chatting,
we kind of moseyed about the store. Suddenly,
he reached down to a box on the floor, and said,
"is this it?"
Indeed, it was.
Not the same vintner, but the same grape.
So I've begun a search for Nero d'Avola throughout the city.
Tips welcome.
Finally! A cure-all!

Thanks to my friend Marie for this!
(Geez I wish I would stop using so many exclamation marks!)
(Periodically they get stuck in my head!)
(Like this!!!!!)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I will not be using this cookbook anytime soon
(but I am considering changing my name to Miss Fluffy):

Suddenly it's fall -- time for soup!
Tonight it's beef, barley & mushroom.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A cutting from my deep pink rosebud geranium
has blossomed with a white flower edged in pink!

And I couldn't resist one last shot
of this last blossom:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Check out The Exorcism on pwally.
You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


S.P. said Nuke-you-ler at least a dozen times
in tonight's debate. And what's with the winking?
I'm offended. It's time someone wrote a musical-parody
about her.
I know I'm preaching to the choir here,
but I just couldn't resist posting this:

We listened to music tonight at WAMU (will it be renamed
"J.P. Morgan Theatre"?) and I'm too tired to type the names
of who we listened to and how they sounded. (Great.)

Today at work we talked momentarily about boring blogs,
you know, the ones where the blogger says things like,
"I brushed my teeth."
So, just for you:
I brushed my teeth.  
And flossed! 
Hee haw!